Thanks to those who make this possible!

Students Use Robots to Learn Engineering Skills

The future is here! Robots are roaming the halls of our schools – but not to worry, it’s just for Robotics Club where students are learning how to build and program robots made of LEGO blocks.

One local school setting the stage for this innovative program is Coteau Bayou Blue Elementary School.

Under the direction of Gifted and Talented teacher Glenn Sikes, students are learning how to code, build robotic components, and solve real-world problems using the engineering process.

“Students are easily motivated to work with robotics,” Glenn said. “Students feel like they are playing, but in reality, are learning skills that will extend far into the future. Coding and robotics will play a large role in their future.”

Glenn received a grant sponsored by Chevron and administered by the Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence (TFAE) for two sets of LEGO robotics to supplement his Robotics Club at Coteau Bayou Blue. With these resources, Glenn was able to create two Robotics Teams – the Space Wolves and the Wolf Invaders - due to a large interest from students. The teams meet twice a week for two hours, where students divide and work in three main groups: programmers, builders, and researchers.

“Our grant from TFAE and Chevron greatly helped us to include the second team,” Glenn said. “We would have had a struggle to share equipment and having that grant made the two teams workable. We appreciate the generous gift, which has made a huge difference to my students who had a chance to participate.”

Recently, Robotics Clubs from around the parish gathered to participate in a Robotics Showcase, where they competed in multiple challenges with their robots. Coteau Bayou Blue Elementary took home two honors at the competition. The Space Wolves placed second in robot design and second in the robot game, while the Wolf Invaders placed first in the core values challenge.

“My students enjoyed interacting with the other teams and seeing how they solved some of the same challenges in a different way,” Glenn said.

While preparing for the next showcase, Glenn said his students will continue to build strong teams and work together to solve problems, think outside the box, be creative, and learn to do hard things all while having fun with robots.

The LEGO Robotics Project for Coteau Bayou Blue Elementary was one of two TFAE Innovative Ed-Venture grants sponsored by Chevron for the 2018-2019 school year.

“We are so thankful to Chevron for being a partner of TFAE to enhance the access of science, technology, engineering, and math resources to our local students,” Katie Portier, TFAE Executive Director, said. “It is through these partnerships that teachers can continue to be creative and innovative in how they inspire and motivate their students.”

TFAE is an independent local non-profit organization that strives to positively affect academic achievement and to fundamentally improve education. TFAE has awarded more than $1 million grant dollars to Terrebonne Parish public school teachers since 2002.  

Scholarly Stations: Learning While Playing

“Mrs. Dupre, come see the words I made!” a little voice exclaimed. Eager and excited, the kindergartener read aloud five words she created on her own. It was hard to tell who was more proud in that moment – the student or the teacher!

Through a TFAE Innovative Ed-Venture Grant, Bourg Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Crystal Dupre has added multiple Scholarly Stations to her classroom, where students can visit distinct learning areas for to practice play-based learning.

“Kindergarteners love to play! It’s natural and a part of their childhood development,” Crystal said. “They learn through play, and this makes play-based learning very important.”

The stations are equipped with resources, technology, games, and supplies that students can use to play, all while learning and reinforcing lessons learned in the classroom. For example, in the ELA station there are classic children’s books that help develop skills in rhyming and word building. In the math station, there are shapes, games, and activities that help students practice and develop skills in recognizing shapes, patterning, counting, measuring, comparing numbers, and more.

Crystal said she believes that incorporating play-based learning will only strengthen the kindergarten curriculum.

“Children like taking the initiative in their learning,” Crystal said. “As they discover new things and apply what they have learned in stations, they feel successful and motivated to continue to learn.”

This classroom’s Scholarly Stations will focus on technology, math, reading, spelling, science, and social living. In addition to these important subjects, play-based learning can also help set the foundation for real-life skills such as how to help each other, how to choose kind words, and how to encourage on another. They can also learn how to choose to be good citizens of the future.

“I want to see my students actively engaged and learning every day,” Crystal said. “Most of all, I want to see them happy and enjoying the learning process in my classroom.”

TFAE donated more than $52,000 to Terrebonne Parish public school teachers in the 2018-2019 school year and more than $1 million dollars since its inception. Grants are made possible through direct donations and donations to TFAE's endowment.

The Scholarly Stations project was made possible by a donation from the Jim and Glenda Harper Fund.

2018-2019 TFAE Grant Award Recipients Announced

Full grant list

Fourth Grade is Ready to Read!

Fourth grade teacher Stephanie Autin saw a need to find a new way to help her students increase their literacy skills, and in turn, become better prepared for the English Language Arts portion of the LEAP test.

With the help of a grant from Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence (TFAE), Stephanie purchased Ready Reading workbooks for her English students at Acadian Elementary School.

“The workbook is a full color book with so many interesting articles and stories that keeps my students engaged while learning,” Stephanie said. “The workbooks help ensure my students are prepared for testing and for the fifth grade.”

Students utilized the workbook for practice in class, homework, and as a review. Stephanie said the workbooks were a great tool for all of her students to use.

“My classroom population is very diverse,” Stephanie said. “My students come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, learning styles, and accommodations. These workbooks give all my students much needed practice in the skills needed to master the fourth grade content.”

A Celebration of Academic Excellence

Meet our 2017-2018 TFAE Celebrates Excellence Inspirational Educators and Distinguished Scholars.

Distinguished Scholars: Erin Rogers, Tammy Johnson, Lauren Louviere, Breanna Parfait, Lane Robichaux, Victoria Pellegrin, Ethan Kelley, Dylan Fitch, Jennifer Barrios, Caleb Boudreaux, Joshua Fontenot

Inspirational Educators:
Norma Donaldson, Rhonda Rogers, Claudette Kelleher, Melea Exchete, Michelle White, Jeremy Boudreaux, Ann Labat, Nikki Thibodeaux, Chris Brown, Vaughn Luquette, Julie Bernard
Special thanks to Hancock Whitney, Rushing Media, and TGMC Community Sports Institute for sponsoring our TFAE Celebrates Excellence event where we honored these students and educators.  
A Celebration of Academic Excellence

Resources Help Kindergarteners Soar

With a New Teacher Grant from Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence (TFAE), Lisa Park Kindergarten Teacher Lani Detiveaux was able to purchase supplies to enhance the centers in her classroom. Lani purchased new manipulatives and games that students will use to learn the foundational skills of reading and math.

Lani said her students will benefit from additional resources in the classroom that usually take time to accumulate as a new teacher. By being awarded a New Teacher Grant, Lani was able to purchase all the items needed for her centers.

“They love learning through play and this grant allowed me to purchase educational resources that help them to explore through hands on learning activities,” Lani said. “I am so thankful to TFAE for this grant opportunity.”

In the 2017-2018 school year, TFAE awarded 21 New Teacher Grants.

To apply for any TFAE Grants for 2018-2019 school year, please visit

Pre-K Gets a Great iStart

At the start of the school year, Coteau Bayou Blue’s prekindergarten teachers saw their classrooms lacking technology and new materials for literacy and math. Teachers Effie Schilling, Wyatt Leonard, Brooke Allemand, and Heidi Theriot worked together to form a plan to enhance their students’ skills in these areas.

Through a grant from Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence (TFAE), Coteau Bayou Blue was able to launch the Hatch iStart Smart Programs for Early Childhood Classrooms. This project included the purchase of eight iPads, a one-year subscription to the Hatch Shell Square Learning Games, and fun and stimulating learning materials.

“They are unaware that while they are playing, they are really sharpening their literacy and math skills,” Effie Schilling said. “The amount of growth is amazing.”

Before being awarded this grant, their students were performing at or below the level of their peers. By incorporating the iStartSmart program, the students have begun progressing at a rapid rate. At the end of the year, several students are performing at or above Kindergarten level.

“Since being awarded this grant, the children look forward to their time on the iPads and for small group and center time when they can use the various material.” Effie said. “They cannot wait to see what new activity awaits them.”

Solving Problems at the Math Cafe

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Sitting around the tall table in the back of the classroom, students are hunched over a worksheet deep in conversation. They move around the table as they brainstorm until they uncover the solution to the problem in front of them. Smiles and high fives reach across the table. Together, they just solved a difficult math problem.

The Math Café has become a popular destination among the halls of Houma Junior High. The idea for the café came to eighth grade math teacher Melissa Williamson due to her own three sons.

“I have raised three sons who drove some of their teachers a bit crazy with the need to move and their inability to sit still for so long,” Melissa said. “The popularity of standing desks inspired me to create a standing table to allow movement and encourage team work.”

Through a grant from Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence (TFAE), Melissa purchased the supplies needed to build the standing table. The students worked together using math and engineering skills to create blueprints for the table and help put the table together.

As an engineer for 14 years, Melissa said the most important lesson her students learned through building the math café was that math and engineering are never done solo in real life.

“Groups work together at all times,” Melissa said. “I want my classroom to feel like a real work space. In all fields, professionals are encouraged to interact with each other and share ideas. The classroom should prepare them using that same setting.”

The Math Café has become a space for students of all levels to interact – from honors and gifted classes to special education and inclusion classes.

“Discipline problems are almost non-existent for students at the café,” Melissa said. “Students smile, interact, and engage when they are able to share ideas in a group setting.”

Through the use of the Math Café, Melissa has been able to “adopt” several non-honor students into her honors class to see if movement and flexible seating would help them, which it has. All of those students are taking honors math tests now and doing very well.

“The Math Café sharpens students’ social skills and their math skills.” Melissa said. “It’s a win-win!”